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posted: 11/18/2012 5:00 AM

Incorrect lien on home should be easy to remove

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Q. My wife and I are attempting to refinance our mortgage. Our loan guy called us yesterday and told us there is a judgment recorded against our property and that it would have to be removed to continue with the refinance. He gave us a copy of what was recorded and although it is my name, I'm positive this judgment isn't against me. I do have a common name. What do I do now?

A. This is a fairly common occurrence. Once the judgment was obtained against the party with the similar name, the judgment creditor (or, more likely, his or her attorney) performed a property search and found you and your residence. Apparently, without confirming you were the correct party, he or she recorded the lien.

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The name, address and phone number of the attorney or the judgment creditor can be found at the bottom of the lien. Call him or her, explain that you are not the judgment debtor and demand they remove the lien. Presuming you can convince them you are not the judgment debtor, this should be fairly routine. If they refuse, your only remedy would be to file a quiet title action against the plaintiff in the original case.

Q. I purchased a house in November 2011. I received a credit for 2011 real estate taxes from the seller. My problem is the credit was not enough to cover the seller's share of the taxes.

After talking with the treasurer and the assessor, it looks like the reason is because the tax prorations were done based upon the seller's 2010 real estate tax bill, which had a senior freeze. The seller did not apply for the senior freeze for 2011 and the 2011 tax bill, which I paid this year, went up dramatically. Is there anything I can do to recover what I am owed? It's a few thousand dollars.

A. For those unaware of these benefits, homeowners over the age of 65 are eligible for a senior exemption, which, like the homeowners exemption, reduces the assessed valuation of the property and ultimately lowers the tax bill. The senior freeze is available to those 65 and older with incomes under a certain level. This benefit "freezes" the tax bill the year the freeze is instituted and the tax bill does not increase so long as the senior continues to occupy the property as their primary residence.

You don't say if you were represented by an attorney when you purchased as most attorneys are cognizant of this issue and address this during the attorney review period. I routinely request a provision be added to the contract that requires prorations be done without the senior freeze/senior exemption unless the seller can prove these benefits will be available for the applicable tax years.

Most contracts provide all tax prorations and are final. That said, it still couldn't hurt to contact the seller's attorney, explain the situation and request the seller pay his or her share. If you were represented by an attorney, you could also ask him how this happened.

• Send your questions to Attorney Tom Resnick, 345 N. Quentin Road, Palatine, IL 60067, by email to tdr100@hotmail.com or call (847) 359-8983.

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